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Cuban Black Beans

September 17, 2010

A wonderful dish to make as a side dish, soup or chilled for salads, not to mention how wonderful your house smells while it is simmering.  There are plenty of companies that make black beans and I have used them when in a rush, but they are truly easy to make and have such a deep, rich flavor when you make your own.  This recipe is from a good friend, Jose.  He always made black beans as part of a Sunday brunch, but I really think he started to make them when we arrived for brunch at 2 p.m.  because we never ate until midnight (very Cuban of him).  His kitchen in New York was definitely the smallest I have ever seen anywhere in the world but he managed to serve some unbelievable meals for many of his friends.  An additional note to remember is that Cubans never serve black beans and white rice already mixed.  They are served separately and the person eating them will mix them.  Serve the rice first and then the beans.


Cuban Black Beans


  • 1 lb. Black Beans (2 1/3 C.)
  • 8 C. Water
  • 1/4 lb. Ham or Salted Pork (omit for vegetarian)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Small Onions (chopped)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 C. Celery (finely chopped)
  • 4-5 T.Olive Oil
  • 1   Oregano
  • 2 T. Cumin
  • 2 T. Lime Juice
  • 2 T. Paprika
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Garlic Chives (for garnish) 


  1. Rinse and sort beans
  2. Soak the beans overnight at least 6 hours)*
  3. Discard the water the beans have soaked in and rinse beans
  4. Bring pot of water to a boil and add the ham and bay leaves and bring back to a boil, then add the soaked beans
  5. Add 2-3 T. olive oil and let simmer for a couple of hours on low heat
  6. Saute the onions, garlic and celery in 2 T. olive oil until translucent
  7. Blend the onion mixture with an immersion blender or blender and add to the soup mixture
  8. Add the cumin, lime juice and paprika to the soup mixture (taste for correct seasoning) (Cumin is key ingredient)
  9. Cook on very low heat for another hour (stir frequently to prevent beans from sticking)
  10. After the total cooking time of 3 hours the beans will be ready to serve

(Serves 8)

* Quick Soak Method:  Add beans to water, boil for 2 minutes; remove from heat, cover and soak for 1 hour. Drain off water and rinse beans.

Adapted from my friend Jose Luis.

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